Lacrosse, properly played, is a game of speed and finesse. However, when I was a sophomore in high school back in 1980 and first went out for my school’s lacrosse team, it quickly became clear that I had neither in abundance. So, I became a defenseman. As such, my primary assignment was to use my 6′ long stick to keep the offensive player I was guarding under control and away from the goal. When he had the ball, my job was to knock it loose by checking (poking or slapping) his stick/hand/arm/ribs with my stick, or by planting my shoulder in his chest if he got too close. It wasn’t always pretty (in fact, it probably never was), but it was the way we played the game in Virginia’s public high schools in the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s.
At that time, my high school was one of the very few public schools in Virginia that had lacrosse programs. Our typical season over the three years that I played would consist of a mixed record against the few other public schools and military boarding schools that had lacrosse programs, and then getting blown out by the private schools that we played. After those prep school pummellings, we used to console ourselves by noting that the private school kids had been playing lacrosse in gym class since elementary school, while most of us hadn’t even picked up a stick until we were teenagers.
I’m happy to report that the lacrosse playing field in central Virginia has leveled considerably since then. My oldest daughter plays on her middle school’s team, my two younger daughters play in a YMCA league, and my preschooler son is very excited about playing “cross” in a summer league this summer after he turns 4. My wife (who played in college) and I aren’t pressuring them to play, but are certainly happy to see them take it as far as they can and want to. Just keep your fingers crossed that they got their lacrosse genes from their mother….